Gas prices are straining family budgets, and more people than ever are looking for ways to help ease America’s reliance on fossil fuels and help the environment. No wonder, then, that demand for electric vehicles has never been higher.
Yet the sheer popularity of electric cars right now — which has led to long waiting lists for the most sought-after models, surging prices, and other challenges — suggests that it might be better to hit the brakes, weigh the pros and cons of going electric, and take a deep breath. Here are some points to consider before heading to the dealership.
SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES
Pandemic-related production delays, a microchip shortage, and other hurdles have reduced new-car inventory by more than two-thirds from what was available three years ago. The problem is particularly acute for electric vehicles, since their batteries require exotic materials, such as lithium and cobalt, that are also in short supply. The result of so many scarcities, as detailed in a recent Vanity Fair article, is increasing sticker-shock on new electric cars, along with long waits for delivery. Buyers of a new Tesla Model Y are being told they could wait a year for their new ride, while the company’s new Cybertruck, which hasn’t even rolled out of the factory yet, has three years’ worth of presold orders — so many that Tesla has stopped accepting reservations.
RECALL AND RELIABILITY ISSUES
Recalls are commonplace in the auto industry, especially given the increasing complexity of the technology found in new cars. Last year, more than 20 million vehicles fell under recalls ordered by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But electric vehicles, while accounting for less than one percent of all vehicles on the road, seem to have a disproportionate share of recall notices. Some of the more significant recalls:
- Last year General Motors recalled virtually all the 140,000 Chevrolet Bolts it’s sold, over battery issues that can cause a fire. Battery manufacturing defects were detected at two different plants, and the company that made the batteries is paying most of the estimated $2 billion cost of the recall – one of the costliest recalls ever on a per-vehicle basis.
- Last spring Tesla issued several sizable recalls just days apart: a seat-belt reminder chime that may not work properly in 817,000 vehicles, a “Boombox” function that could drown out a pedestrian warning system in 578,000 vehicles, and more critically, a recall of 54,000 vehicles over the company’s “Full Self-Driving” software.
- In June Toyota recalled its first all-electric vehicle because of a risk that the wheels will fall off. Such a basic engineering failure drew widespread criticism. “Lawmakers, investors, and firms are all pushing for electric vehicles,” observed one columnist. “But we seem to have lost sight of safety.”
In addition, electric SUVs were ranked as the least reliable type of vehicle among 17 categories in a recent Consumer Reports appraisal.
Batteries are getting more durable and hold charges longer, and most charging of electric vehicles takes place at home. But it’s worth investigating the availability of charging stations in your area before investing in an electric car. If you are mainly planning on short commutes, this may not be much of an issue. But long drives in rural areas? And a proprietary plug like that of a Tesla, which may not be compatible with other charging systems? Watch out.
The charging station infrastructure is improving rapidly, but there are still some bugs to be worked out. Depending on how you plan to use your electric car, you may be better off waiting a little longer for the market to evolve — and, hopefully, become more stable.
THE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Greenwood Village, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.